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Box Office Flops Vindicated By History

Throughout our era of silver screen viewing, there have been some amazing box office flops vindicated by history - many of which you'd never guess.

Not all works of genius are adored the moment that they are conceived and marketed. Sometimes, it takes a little time. 

In the music industry, there have been many hits that only became hits years after they were first recorded. Many people ignore a certain song, only for it to become discovered by indie groups that start using it as a new anthem. 

The film industry isn't much different in that sense. History shows us all what's worth looking. Some of the biggest box office flops vindicated by history are now household names. We're willing to bet that some of the biggest box office flops out there might even be some of your favorite movies. 

The following box office flops vindicated by history have become iconic in pop culture. It's hard to believe that they were once panned by critics, unpopular, and just plain unwatched, don't you think? 

Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane is a movie known for showing the darker side of politics and is regularly considered to be one of Orson Welles' best works, even over 75 years later. It follows the dark life of a newspaper magnate and politician by the name of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). 

Inside this movie is a perfect portrait of a tortured, lonely man at the height of society. It's considered to be one of the best movies ever made, and has gotten critical acclaim for decades. It's also strongly influenced by the real life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

However, when Welles was busy releasing Citizen Kane, it was kind of a major flop. Hearst tried to buy and destroy the movie because of the many personal attacks on him and his employees. Welles refused. As a form of backlash, Hearst newspapers panned Citizen Kane. 

Though it's technically one of the bigger box office flops vindicated by history, Citizen Kane did fairly decently when it was released. It was the sixth largest grossing movie of that year according to box offices. Even so, it fell way short of what investors in the movie expected - all thanks to Hearst.

12 Angry Men (1957)

In terms of box office flops vindicated by history, few really are as clear an example as 12 Angry Men, a court drama that first hit movie theater box offices in the late 50s. Many people don't even recognize the film by name.

The entire premise is simple - 12 people need to declare a man guilty of murder beyond reasonable doubt. If the man if found guilty, he will be sentenced to death. However, all is not as it seems. Is he actually guilty of the crime he allegedly committed?

Most of the jurors want to declare him guilty immediately, except for one who has his doubts. Sound familiar? Of course, it does! This movie has become a trope all on its own, and the premise has been used as an episode plot in Family Matters as well as Family Guy.

Needless to say, critics often cite it as an extremely influential and powerful court drama. However, at the time box offices opened, it was a flop. 12 Angry Men was called a bitter box office flop, and it was only after a long time that people appreciated it.

Like many film flops of the time, it would eventually get picked up by TV stations looking for "filler movies." This was the point where history vindicated the film. Once the movie got sent to television screens, people began to see it for the masterpiece it was. Eventually, through video rentals, 12 Angry Men netted a nice $1 million in the box office. 

Vertigo (1958)

Leave it to film genius Alfred Hitchchock to create one of the best box office flops vindicated by history, right? 

The brilliant filmmaker's 1958 film focuses on an acrophobic detective forced into retirement after his fear causes the death of a police officer. It's a psychological thriller known for its powerful themes of manipulation, obsession, and fear - and what it means to become too deeply in love. 

Most people would expect Hitchcock to be immune to film flops, and to a point, this is true. It's not like it was a horrible, worst-ever box office flop. It did break even at $2.8 million revenue versus the $2.4 million investment into making the movie. 

However, it's still not exactly what people would expect. The film didn't really fare well with critics, and many fans were upset about his departure from his more classic style of movie making. 

Even so, over the years, critics warmed up to it, and ended up giving Hitchcock credit where credit is due. 

Harold and Maude (1971)

Of all the romantic drama films on this list, you've most likely probably heard of Harold and Maude. The original film, which was made in the early 70s, shocked audiences by showing a young man befriending a 79-year-old woman by the name of Maude. 

Harold (Bud Cort) is young and obsessed with death. He even fakes his own death through grisly ways just to scare off dates that his own mother set up for him. Enter Maude (Ruth Gordon), a very vivacious old lady who ends up befriending the troubled team. Maude teaches him to live life to the fullest - right before she commits suicide. 

In many ways, Harold and Maude was a film way before its time. It was scandalous. Spring-Winter relationships just were not accepted back then. Critics panned it as a morbid, perverse story and were unable to get over its filming techniques. It was also a major box office flop that didn't even break even. 

Even so, as years passed, the film gained a cult following. Many of the critics softened their stance, with some even apologizing for ignoring the film earlier. 

Chicago Tribune film critic Mark Caro even wrote, ""I’m sorry, Harold and Maude, for denying you for so long. You’re my favorite movie once again."

It took 12 years for Harold and Maude to become profitable, and now, it's still raking in the dough. It's now considered to be a staple movie in every cinephile's library, and one of the best box office flops vindicated by history and film fans ever made. 

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner is every sci-fi cinephile's favorite dystopian cult classic. In this film, Deckard (Harrison Ford) is sent to hunt down replicants who are attempting to reach Earth in a bid to find their creator. The film, which was based on a Philip K. Dick novel, is all about questioning what it means to be human. 

For most sci-fi fans, it's nearly impossible to imagine Blade Runner being a box office flop these days. However, it only netted $33.8 million during its box office time - not too good considering that the movie cost $28 million to make. 

Unfortunately, it was released alongside a lot of other sci-fi films, including E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, The Thing, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. So, it didn't quite perform as well as it could have its opening day. The huge number of sci-fi releases, to a point, overshadowed Blade Runner

Critics, though annoyed at the "slow pace" of the film, fell in love with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner over the years. In the beginning, they accused the movie of relying on special effects to make it good - however, the thought-provoking side of it shined through. As a result, it's one of the few sci-fi box office flops vindicated by history for all the right reasons. 

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Fans of mobster movies already know this film as one of the only crime drama box office flops vindicated by history. Once Upon a Time in America was a film that showed the lives of Jewish ghetto youths as they get involved in Italian organized crime.

Rich cinematography, big name actors like Robert DeNiro and James Woods, as well as a very realistic script made this movie great. It was even directed by the legendary Italian filmmaker, Sergio Leone.

However, that didn't mean that Once Upon a Time in America actually fared well in box offices. During the time box office groups were measuring the film's success, the movie only grossed around $5 million. This makes it a massive, insanely bad movie failure - especially since it took $30 million to make!

The reason why is because theaters showed the cut and "family friendly" version of the film. This left out major scenes, themes, and controversial ideas. The uncut film was far better, with film critic Roger Ebert hailing it as "an epic poem of violence and greed." Gene Siskel, his critique partner, called it one of the best films of all time.

Film lovers eventually gave it another look when the uncut version came out, and it quickly gained traction. It's now one of the most popular mob movies of all time, and has a strong following in the professional filmmaker world. 

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

This classic film about a jewelry heist gone horribly wrong and its aftermath has become a cult classic and one of the best heist movies. As one of the most widely recognized Quentin Tarantino films, Reservoir Dogs has become a cult classic that launched pop culture references that are now quite mainstream.

Despite the excellent storytelling, the gritty dialogue, and the awesome cinematography, Reservoir Dogs actually wasn't that popular initially. The film only grossed $2.8 million, versus the $1.2 million that it took to film the entire thing. Considering that it was made in 1992, that made it a modest success - but somewhat of a box office failure.

Only 17 theaters in the nation showed Reservoir Dogs, and it debuted at Sundance Film Festival. Because it was such an underground film, the movie only grossed $147,839 during its first week - making it a really sad flop in that way.

Even though it didn't gross much, critics adored the film and the hype it received skyrocketed the indie film into mainstream media within months. As a result, Tarantino became a household name and Reservoir Dogs became one of the best indie box office flops vindicated by history.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This classic film has become so popular, it's even been featured as an "alt plot" on Family Guy and for being one of the most popular prison films of all time. It's happy, uplifting, and makes you believe in karma. 

In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy (Tim Robbins), a banker who was supposed to serve two life sentences in prison for murder sees his friendship with a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) evolve. The two eventually find a way out of Shawshank - each through their own means. Can they reunite elsewhere? 

Though the movie did gross $58 million while only costing around $25 million, the fact is that it was still a box office flop. Since it was released around the time of many other smash hits like Pulp Fiction, the film only earned a total of $2.4 million in its first large-release weekend. 

However, as good as the other films were, critics had to give credit where credit was due. The film developed a major following among cinephiles, and while it took a few years to actually get full acclaim, it's hard to deny how much impact it's had in pop culture. 

Ergo, The Shawshank Redemption definitely fits the bill of box office flops vindicated by history. 

Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore is one of the first films to really usher in an era of "school-themed" teen movies in the 90s - or at least, one of the first to really do it right. This follows the insane life of eccentric student Max Fisher (Jason Schwartzman) as he befriends a millionaire by the name of Henry Blume, gets a crush on a first grade teacher, and deals with the fallout of his crazy behavior in the worst ways possible. 

The reason why Rushmore is so good is because it's so over-the-top. It's about obsession, madness, and just trying to find out who you're supposed to be with. As such, it's one of Wes Anderson's best films. 

In terms of box office work, throughout the time box office groups were monitoring Rushmore, the film only grossed around $17 million. The widespread opening weekend only saw around $2.8 in revenue. 

History, once again, has critics and cinema groups to thank for redeeming this coming-of-age flick. After winning multiple awards, Rushmore earned its place among box office flops redeemed by history. 

Fight Club (1999)

We know we're breaking the first rule of Fight Club, but we need to talk about Fight Club. The film, which is based off of a Chuck Palahniuk novel by the same name, is one of the most popular and well-known films ever made. 

Fight Club both talks about the problems that come with rampant consumerism and also delivers amazing punches about society as a whole. It's fun, thought-provoking, and features people doing things everyone's wished to do at least once. 

The film cost $63 million to make, and capped out its box office time at $100.3 million worldwide.  It doesn't sound too bad, right? Well, it would have been a lot better if it didn't gross a mere $37-ish million in the US and Canada alone. Overall, it was somewhat ignored stateside, all things considered. 

Reviews were mixed. Some called Fight Club reckless and a movie at risk for "copycat behavior crime." Others called it genius. A cult following of Fight Club developed, and the rest is history. Incidentally, this makes it a box office flops vindicated by history in the best way possible. 

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